South African President Defends Firing HIV/AIDS Advocate
Posted by pozlife on August 13, 2007
by The Associated Press
Posted: August 12, 2007 – 1:00 pm ET
(Johannesburg, South Africa) President Thabo Mbeki fired a deputy health minister lauded for revitalizing South Africa’s campaign against AIDS because she failed to work as “part of a collective,” according to a dismissal letter released Saturday.
Mbeki dismissed Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge on Wednesday after reports that she went to Spain for an AIDS conference without his permission. Her firing has been widely criticized, especially by AIDS activists.
After previously saying Mbeki did not have to explain his action, the government communications office released a letter he sent Madlala-Routledge relieving her of her duties.
Mbeki wrote that even during her tenure as deputy defense minister he had “consistently drawn your attention to the concerns raised by your colleagues about your inability to work as part of a collective, as the Constitution enjoins us to.”
He said the unapproved trip to Madrid showed that she had “no intention to abide by the constitutional prescriptions that bind all of us. For this reason I suggested to you that you should resign.
“It is clear that you do not accept my advice. This leaves me no choice but to relieve you of your duties,” the letter said.
Madlala-Routledge told reporters Friday of clashes with her boss, Minister of Health Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who has been criticized for promoting garlic and lemons as AIDS remedies.
She also said Mbeki – a strong ally of Tshabalala-Msimang and whose own record fighting AIDS has been criticized by activists – did not approve of her trip, and that once she was aware of that she returned to South Africa as soon as possible.
During nine months recently when the health minister was ill, Madlala-Routledge mended fences with AIDS activists and the mainstream medical community.
She also was a driving force behind a new five-year plan that has made reducing the number of new HIV infections one of its main targets and aims to extend treatment to 80 percent of those with AIDS by 2011.
Sukhthi Naidoo, a spokeswoman for Madlala-Routledge, said Saturday that the former deputy minister was not commenting on the release of Mbeki’s letter.
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